This is about an encounter this very week with a dear old saint who had lived with a view of her own sin as too large to deal with because her Jesus was too small:
“The reason I do all I do is to atone for my sins,” she said with all seriousness! After trying to cover for the fact that I almost spat all my tea out I gathered myself and sat wide-eyed at the pastoral and theological possibilities this statement opens up.
“Wow,” I said, “You must be such a sinner that even Jesus isn’t enough to take care of you!” “What do you mean?” she said. “Well, you’ve just said something profound that I think you actually believe, that you serve and give as a way to top up your salvation and ease your guilt. As your pastor I have two delightful nuggets of heavenly wisdom and truth that will set you free!” “Go on,” she said.
“First, even if you served everyone in the whole world, twenty-four hours a day from your birth to your death, and that by serving them you were trying to atone for your sin, you would still never be able to, for your sin is worse than you think and your situation graver than you ever imagined. Second, your sin has already been atoned for by the death of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. He died your death, you live His life. You, me, everyone can never add to such a magnificent atonement.
Dear saint, your sins have been forgiven and your sin atoned for. There is therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. And if you continue serving, serve in freedom not fear. Serve Jesus who has out-served everyone, follow Him in serving as we all must, but do it as a joy not a guilty duty.”
I think this saintly old woman got it, and after making me another cup of tea, she left with a spritely spring in her step. What a joy!
Isaiah 6:7 “Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Romans 3:23-34 “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…”
John 19:30 “It is finished!”
Matthew 28:7 “…go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead….”
Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free…”
Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”